In Shanghai the process of selecting food is complicated by an abundance of horror stories; from bird flu infected chicken to hormone infused milk and vegetables steeped in pesticides. Although these stories are usually (fingers crossed) more heard than seen, they nevertheless make the decision on how and with what you feed your family that much more challenging. As pages of newspapers, magazines and the web are constantly occupied with food safety issues, it is important not to overlook the many online grocers and restaurants that have set their sights on combatting the ‘unclean’ food label.
Starting off with tackling the pesticide problem, there is no shortage of organic options in Shanghai. Although there will always be the question of ‘can I trust the organic certification?’ it is still relatively better to go with the organic option instead of eating non-organic produce. A recent scientific review conducted by Newcastle University revealed organic foods are higher in nutrients and lower in pesticides compared to conventionally grown varieties. Although ultimately the key to keeping yourself and your family healthy is eating more fruit and vegetables (whether they are organic or not), the study showed organic varieties contain higher levels of antioxidants, which are linked to health benefits.
Price wise it will be more expensive to venture down the organic road compared to going your nearest wet market. However if you’re buying from expat catered grocery stores its definitely worth shopping around. Organic grocers like Green & Safe and Fields do weekly deals on their fruits and vegetables, as well as other products. Don’t get us wrong, buying fruit and veg from your local store is not a bad thing, oftentimes the offerings are fresh and delicious. Just make sure you wash them before eating and peel fruit such as peaches and nectarines. Pay special attention to leafy greens and lettuce, soaking them and changing the water until it is clear.
Meat can be another concerning food group for families. If you’re leaning more towards the safe bet and the idea of watching chickens and ducks being picked for slaughter in the wet markets unnerves you, all of the expat friendly grocers offer imported and organic products. Specifically, online grocery stores such as Fields, which has now joined with Elders the Australian meat importers for their home delivery, provide their own organic produce as well as fresh imported meats. Supermarkets such as City Shop and Carrefour also offer imported and organic options as well as local Chinese meats from reliable sources. Green and Safe is a smaller grocer but touts organic and clean produce selling their own organic meats including steak, sausages, burgers, chicken and fish out of the freezer in their Dongping Lu branch. Additionally all of these options also stock cured meats and ham.
If you’ve got allergies such as lactose intolerance or if you’re just not into the different flavor that is Chinese milk, all the above mentioned grocers stock the usual soy and nut milk brands such as Alpro and Vita.
Now that we’ve touched base on how to fill your fridge, what if you want a night off from the kitchen and fancy a trip out? Personally we think eating out is fun and there are so many great restaurants in Shanghai that serve excellent food from all over the world. However, if you’re heading out for a guaranteed detox worthy or vegan meal, restaurants such as Pure and Whole, Origin, Sproutworks, Green and Safe’s restaurant and Sprout Lifestyle Cafe are delicious options that will leave you healthy and wanting more. Sprout Lifestyle also have an online shop retailing super foods and healthy food ingredients and put on educational cooking classes, workshops and health coaching. Happy shopping and healthy eating Shanghai!